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Councils, clusters to return Covid money

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Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda

The Presidential Taskforce on Covid (PTF) has directed all councils and clusters, apart from ministries of Health and Education, to stop spending and return their allocations from the K17.2 billion they received from government for Covid fight.

A memo, which Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) Director of Response Moses Chimphepo has signed and sent to all councils, indicates that the decision was made at a meeting of PTF members at Bingu International Convention Centre on February 23.

“All councils must urgently submit their itemised activity plans on how they intend to spend the allocations to Dodma in time for Dodma to circulate to the Presidential Taskforce on Covid the consolidated council plans by Friday, February 26 2021. The consolidated plans will be reviewed by the PTF on Tuesday, March 2 2021,” the memo reads.

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Asked about what would happen to the money which councils and clusters have already spent, PTF co- Chairperson Dr Wilfred Chalamira NKhoma said the councils and clusters were instructed to be providing financial reports weekly.

He said, at the point the money is being frozen, Dodma would know what was reported by the institutions as regard the state of expenditure in their accounts, details that would be verified in bank accounts the money was deposited into.

“It will be possible to determine if the facts of the expenditures that have already taken place are consistent with what was planned and approved,” he said.

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PTF co-Chairperson Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda Thursday said there was a need to change the way councils have been running their business, in relation to Covid funds management.

“There is clearly a need to change the way some things are done,” she said.

On Sunday, January 17, President Lazarus Chakwera committed K17.52 billion to the Covid response programme.

The call for councils to return the money comes amid questions on how the councils and clusters utilised another K6.2 billion they were allocated last year.

This follows revelations that bigger proportions of the money were spent on allowances.

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